I feel like I must have missed something with this book, considering the almost universal praise it’s received! To me, everything about this book was fine. Not terrible, but not outstanding. Just fine. I read and watch a lot of crime drama so I guess I have fairly high standards? Don’t know! I did enjoy the way Harper created the vibe of a small country Aussie town though. I think that if you’re Aussie or have lived here for any length of time – whether you were born here or not – everyone, and I mean everyone, knows the danger of a live flame in the bush during fire season. Harper creates and draws upon our collective dread of the ‘dry’ really well and it felt real and convincing, as well as providing an eerie threatening backdrop for a set of pretty gruesome murders.
A bunch of friends and family have been asking how they can read ‘Broad Hatchet’, my short story from the Overland Victoria University Short Story Prize. The edition that it’s printed in is 224, but you can just read the story and judge’s report online now, for free! Yay. If you really feel like forking out the print edition is available at indie bookstores like Readings, The Paperback, Hill of Content, etc, and also from the Overland website.
The runner-up stories are AWESOME – ‘Acorn of Sadness‘ by Ashleigh Synnott, which started off in quite a humorous tone, took me to a dark and upsetting place that I was in no way expecting. I still feel weird and disturbed, three days after reading it (in a good way). Ben Walter’s ‘All Hollows‘ is beautifully written, also darkly comic, and focuses on the existential crises / insomnia of three trick-or-treaters (or real monsters – can’t tell!).
The rest of the journal is cracking, too, as always.
This is a really beautiful book. It’s a slow burn, and the story is not so much plot driven as it is an extended and poetic meditation on origins, both in terms of family (ie. what we inherit from our parents, whether we can escape their influence or not), but also our evolutionary biological origins as humans – and the origins of life or existence itself. The Salamanders is published by Transit Lounge (who also published Black Rock White City by A.S. Patrić, winner of this year’s Miles Franklin) so it was no surprise to find the writing was of high quality.
Oh, what a lovely book. I picked this new release up while I was in in Scotland last month – it’s written by a Scottish musician and was released through a local press. Darkly comic, coarse, and witty, the story is told by John, a young Scot who feels listless after attending art school in London; he returns to the Scottish countryside just outside St Andrews to stay with his old pal Stevie who works on a local farm. It’s primarily a story about the lads’ friendship – getting over the initial awkwardness, learning to be pals again after years apart- but also about belonging somewhere, or trying to belong somewhere, and trying not to disappoint people, or places.
Um…opened up my email this morning to find I had been announced the winner of the Overland VU Short Story Prize, after finding out two weeks ago that I had been shortlisted! I can’t really believe it, but what an incredible honour. Overland is such a wonderful journal. And also – big thanks to the judges AND to Overland and Victoria University for supporting emerging writers! So very encouraging. My story, ‘Broad Hatchet’, along with the full judges’ report and two stories by the runners up, will appear in the next edition of Overland, which comes out in about two weeks. I also get $6000 prize money (like WUT?!?!). Goes to show how dedicated these organisations are to supporting writers in their work.
The judges said: ‘Broad hatchet’ takes the classic Australian short story – pioneer mythology, man versus landscape – and reshapes it…[it’s] ‘intimate, subversive and finely wrought’. I’m pretty gobsmacked by their kind words.
Congrats too to runners up Ben Walter and Ashleigh Synnott – can’t wait to read their stories, which will also appear in the September Overland.
And of course special thanks to my babes Alexis Drevikovsky, Ash Hanson, Stu Harper, Elanna Nolan and Meaghan Young for all their feedback on early drafts of the story 🙂
I was so totally stoked to find out my short story, ‘Broad Hatchet’, about a chick who builds a cabin in the Australian bush (or at least tries to), has been shortlisted for the Overland VU Short Story Prize from 500 entries. Overland is one of my favourite Australian political and cultural journals so I feel pretty honoured. Winners announced in a couple of weeks – fingers crossed! The other shortlisted stories sound great so I look forward to reading the winning tale.
This book is unsettling and upsetting – in a good way. It basically traces the workings of a young woman called Joy’s mind after her partner dies suddenly. Her grief quickly becomes extreme depression (and perhaps psychosis, though it’s not made clear), and she also struggles with alcoholism and social anxiety. We don’t learn a whole lot about her partner’s death (just enough to understand that it happened and was traumatic for Joy, narrated through brief and disjointed italicised flashbacks) and so the focus really is on the inner workings of Joy’s mind.
Or, Tullohs gone wild in the highland fog.
dat view tho
Hermitage walk, stunning as usual
And the award for most helpful signage goes to-
#holdup – we got a very special baron in here
Medieval statue of bag-pipe playing pig: not a joke
Walter Scott goes ham on the GOT merch
Questioning our life choices re: summer holiday destination
12 degrees and rain, still the greatest place on earth 🙂
dat fog tho
Glen Nevis, and sunshine
Cousins or twins? You decide.
Apocalypse & chill
Loch Linnhe by night
From Arthur’s Seat
Lucy surveys her kingdom
Did we order too much?
Yes. Yes we did.
Tulloh hugs xx Em & Milo
This book was good fun. Set in the 1920s, it follows Evie, a young American woman who wants to the first female obstetrician in the US in a time where girls even attending uni was frowned upon, let alone becoming doctors, let alone doctors that helped women give birth. The story traces her attempts to get in med school in NYC, and then to pay for med school once she’s in – she does this by becoming a showgirl with the Ziegfied Follies (another so called ‘scandalous’ choice that she strives to keep hidden lest she be expelled from university). At the same time a romance is brewing – Evie is falling in love with Thomas Whitman, a rich banker dude who is super nice and cool, but he keeps travelling abroad for business, and Evie is worried that because he’s such a high flyer, his relationship with her (and her associated scandals) could compromise his family business, etc etc…
I did think this dystopian story about young women being punished for sex with powerful men by being relegated to a brutal desert prison was good, but I found it hard to reconcile all the amazing reviews with my own reading experience…another case of being sucked in the by hype before I actually read the book, methinks.
Yolanda is one the girls in the prison (which is actually an abandoned sheep stations, manned by two male guards). I really liked Yolanda’s journey as she became more and more animal, stripping herself of cultural baggage and becoming no more than flesh and bone in a purposeful way (as opposed to a reductive way). The descriptions of her wandering the desolate paddocks slung with rabbit traps, carcasses and skins after she learned to hunt to survive were really powerful, and even though it sounds kind of gross, she was never a figure of horror – more of power and agency.
I also found the shifting power dynamics between the girls and the male guards really compelling, especially the way that Boncer’s ‘power’ could only be enforced by violence and threat (and finally rape), and that his desire for control basically emerged from his fear of the young women.